The Main Phase, Episode 9 – Room to Improve

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Monday, June 30th – Today’s Main Phase sees Reuben deliver his first video show for StarCityGames.com. He talks of his reception thus far, his own Fearless Magical Inventory, and a few of the spoiled cards from the fast-approaching Eventide…

(Author’s note: I know that the video is a bit uneven and I’m sorry about that. The ambient sound in the Columbus Convention Center combined with the fact that I forgot my external microphone at home the day of filming means that I have some funky noises going on. I did the best I could during editing to minimize the problem. Sorry for the nuisance.)


I have only been a writer for Star City Games for, what, a month now and already I have become the most polarizing Magic-related figure on the planet.

I guess nobody can read my article and just be like,

“Meh, that was okay.”

It’s like olives: you either love them or you hate them.

Or… you think they’re okay.

Personally, I don’t really care for olives.

On the bright side, I guess that means I’ll win the Storyteller ballot this year. Right? Am I right?

In a related story, I have discovered the location of the end of the world.

Not surprisingly, it’s on the Internet.

What may shock you is that it has to do with Magic.

Ladies and gentlemen, there is a blog that is dedicated to every Magic-related movement of one Guillaume Wafo-Tapa.

As the blog’s author states: “This is a blog for people who like Pro Tour coverage, but are tired of reading about all the bad players. There is only one good player and that player is Guillaume Wafo-Tapa. He should win every tournament.”

Yeah… wow. Link in the sidebar.

There have been a lot of things in Magic related news worth discussing in the time since my last video, but perhaps none more compelling than Randy Buehler svelte new bod!

Seriously, he looks really good. Keep it up, Randy!

Now if we can only work on the number of times you say the phrase “fair enough” in any given match coverage video, we’d be in business.

Earlier this week, I was seriously considering leaving Magic behind.

Part of the reason was because much of the response to my articles has been negative, and while this kind of thing doesn’t really get to me…

After all, I’ve done stand-up in front of hecklers in clubs all the time.

… This time it did.

With all the real important issues I am dealing with right now, even something as silly as someone calling me names on the Internet can add to the strain.

A lot of circumstances that I had to deal with this week, most of which having nothing to do with Magic or StarCityGames.com, left me questioning my commitment to the game.

I had some conversations with people I respect a lot, and I have decided that I do want to keep doing what I’m doing because, at its basest level, I love the game and I love to write about it.

One of the things I did that cheer me up was suggested to me by Sam Stoddard. He told me to go back and look at some early articles from Tom LaPille and John Rizzo, writers I appreciate and enjoy very much. He told me to look at some of the forum responses and their early work.

And I was relieved to see that they had their fair share of critics as well.

I’m not saying that I am the next Rizzo or LaPille, but it is worth pointing out that many writers have these growing pains too.

Apparently, there are nay-sayers in nearly every forum.

Sam then suggested that I read an article that he wrote called, “Creating a Fearless Magical Inventory.” In it, he describes that after a hiatus from the game in order to complete school, his skills had atrophied and needed to improve on them.

He says in the article that, quote: “I knew that with the knowledge of my problems public, I would no longer be able to deny them to myself or others. Remove your ego from the equation, and you have room to improve your game.”

In recent weeks, I have been reminded of my ego many times and it has gotten the better of me more than once.

He goes on to describe one of the ways he got back on his Magical feet, so to speak, which was to create a list of the aspects of his game that needed improvement. He then lists them in his article for the entire world to see.

Many others followed in Sam’s footsteps, including StarCityGames.com own Benjamin Peebles-Mundy.

If you would allow me, I would like to take a Fearless Magical Inventory of myself. Right here, right now on camera. Here we go.

I am bad at evaluating what is good and what isn’t. As you have seen in several of my episodes, I am very fond of picking what will be good, what won’t and so on. I usually try to pick things that are off the beaten path. Everyone knew that Thoughseize would be good so I didn’t comment on it. Instead, I made comments about other, less obvious things.

Boldwyr Heavyweights, anyone?

The problem with this is that I am simply bad at recognizing what will be good and what won’t.

I do not play test enough and as a result, I often do not live up to my own expectations.

I have far too big of an ego.

I think we can all agree on that.

When drafting, I talk too much and belie some information on my deck that might help the other drafters at the table later on.

The expectations I place on myself are too high because I think I am better at Magic that I am. Right now, I am not good enough right now to be on the Pro Tour, let good enough alone win a PTQ. Being disappointed that I didn’t win a given tournament or a PTQ because of luck or what other people have done is foolish. I didn’t put in the work necessary.

I am overconfident when I am playing against less experienced players. I think that just because I am better than they are it doesn’t matter what the cards are in my opponent’s deck.

Because of the responses I get to my videos and articles, sometimes I forget that not all people will think I’m funny, and I am offended when someone voices an opinion that I am not entertaining. I forget that comedy is an art form, and as such not everyone will like any given painting, sculpture or joke that you make. I shouldn’t take these as personally as I do.

I have other things I need to improve upon than I have not included in this video, but this is a start.

By identifying the problems, I can work towards fixing them. For example, this summer I plan on playing way more hours of Magic each week than I currently do and I am going to make a conscious effort to be more mindful of the way I say things.

The last thing I want to do is talk a little bit about some of the spoiled cards from Eventide.

Now I know I don’t have a great track record with these predictions…

Boldwyr Heavyweights, anyone?

… But I enjoy doing them anyway.

Here are three things that really interest me right now.

First, Unmake is a card from the new set that costs wub-wub-wub…

Hey, that’s how I say it.

… It’s an instant that reads, “Remove target creature from the game.” It should find a nice home in the sideboard of the Kithkin deck in Block.

‘Chroma’ is a new ability in Eventide that counts the number of mana symbols of a given type on permanents you control and produces some effect according to that number. I’m not sure how popular this ability will be, as it seems like an ability similar to cards like Pack’s Disdain that requires you to over commit to the board for them to be most effective.

The fact that it doesn’t combo with tokens, namely of the Faerie Rogue variety, doesn’t help either.

On the other hand, the Retrace ability is very exciting to me. Retrace is an ability that reads, “You may play this card from your graveyard by discarding a land card in addition to paying its other costs.” Like Flashback, this is reusability at its finest, but unlike flashback it doesn’t remove itself from the game when you have to play the spell.

I expect this ability to have a very big effect on the game.

My name is Reuben Bresler for StarCityGames.com, and remember: ten cent commons beat ten dollar rares every single time.


Every once and a while, someone whose very existence made my life worth living that much more passes away. This week, we lost one of those people. George Carlin made me want to make people laugh for a living. His voice, his genius, his style, his presence. They made me want to be a comedian and live up to his legacy. If someday I can be as great at anything as George was at making people laugh, it would be a dream come true. This world needed George Carlin, and I’m sad to see him gone.